852.48/775: Telegram

The Ambassador in Spain (Weddell) to the Secretary of State

619. Department’s 290, November 5, 5 p.m. I regret exceedingly that I evidently did not make my meaning clear to the Department with regard to my recent interview with Serrano Suñer as reported in my 606, October 31, 9 p.m. I felt then and feel now that there has been no change in Spain’s status of non-belligerency and that I received as satisfactory assurances as could be expected under the circumstances that no change in this status was to be anticipated.

I emphatically do not interpret Suñer’s statements to mean that assistance such as naval bases or other direct assistance will be given by Spain to Germany and Italy against Great Britain.

I have been in constant but discreet contact with Sir Samuel Hoare38 and he has repeatedly assured me that he feels that the British position in Spain can be most strengthened by assistance particularly in the way of foodstuffs from the United States. Furthermore the British Government has resumed negotiations designed to assist Spain in the hope that such help will prevent any radical change in Spain’s present status, and this was decided upon after several conversations between the British Ambassador and Suñer.

In making my previous recommendations that foodstuffs be sent to Spain I have constantly kept in mind the fact that the policy of the United States Government is to furnish all possible assistance to Great Britain short of war. As far as regards the British position in Spain I believe that a supply of foodstuffs from us attended with sufficient publicity might well be the only factor which would prevent Spain from accepting Axis demands or promises and entering the war against Great Britain through sheer desperation. After being led to believe that such aid was forthcoming a blunt refusal at this [Page 829]time to consider Spanish needs might have the effect of forcing an immediate decision to act against Great Britain.

In view of all of the foregoing I respectfully request that the Department reconsider the matter and I reaffirm the recommendations submitted in my 606, October 31, 9 p.m.

I have an appointment to see Franco tomorrow but intend to be “ill” until such time as I receive the Department’s instructions.

  1. British Ambassador in Spain.